It is hard for me quantify why I love baseball so much. Baseball is the greatest sport to ever be played. It’s the Great American Pasttime. I was raised to love baseball. Growing up my dad instilled in me the importance of the sport, as his father had with him. My grandfather was a giant Cardinals fan. My parents remind me time and again how much my baseball passion reminds them of him. It is my little way of carrying on his legacy. I’ve spent countless hours in the backyard playing catch with my dad and family. As the mitt pops back and forth, we fill the air between us with discussions of the history of the game. This discussion has evolved over time, beginning with my dad teaching me about the greats such as Musial, Gibson, and Williams and evolving into talks about current greats like Smoltz, Pujols, Jeter, and Ortiz. I’ve loved this game my entire life.
The Boston Red Sox are like the heart and soul of baseball and my love for it. They went through 86 years of failure, of mishaps, and of heartbreak. And they came through it! Those guys day in and day out play their hearts out. It’s beyond me, it’s beyond you. A lot of my friends and family get annoyed with my mood swings during the season because if the Sox have a bad game, I have a bad day. And when the Sox are killing it, I feel like a million bucks. In recent years it has been particularly up and down. Some of the times have been unbearable like losing seasons and the worst of all, losing a post season berth on the final day of the season. But the highs have been so glorious. 2013 is a season that still, two years removed, I cannot quantify. It was all born of tragedy. The team put an entire city on its back and spent all of October healing wounds. It’s tough to be so wrapped up in something. It takes time and patience. But it’s a passion, it’s a real passion. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Red Sox Nation doesn’t give up. Red Sox Nation fights through it and is there for a heart breaking game 162 loss to fall out of the playoffs, is there for a 93 loss season, and is there when they clinch the division with the best record in all of baseball and go on to win the World Series. These moments are so sweet because we’ve earned them.
I never get sick of it. I follow all 162 games of the season. Factor in the month of spring training and the month of the post season, it is nine months out of every year. And there is nothing in the world like attending a baseball game. It’s the atmosphere that gets me. All the cliched things people say, but they are true. It’s the ballpark franks, the roar of the crowd, the peanuts and cracker jacks, the vendors yelling about how cold their beer is, the hecklers yelling at the players, and seeing your favorite player get up to bat. And even better when they deliver.
I have seen a lot of incredible things at baseball games. Beckett’s one hitter in 2011 the night the Bruins won the cup. Nap’s walk off homer against the Yankees in 2013. A 14 inning a marathon walk off against Oakland in 2011. Carp’s pinch hit 10th inning grand slam at the Trop in 2013. I wasn’t sure I could top it, but Saturday I did.
David Ortiz is probably the player who has meant the most to the Boston Red Sox franchise. A team with such a storied history, that is a bold statement. The man has meant a tremendous amount to the team, the fans, to the city. Tonight when I went to the game with him sitting at 498 career homers I was less than confident I’d see such a historical moment. Multiple times over the day leading up to it I said incredulously ‘there is no way he hits two in one game for it’ to push the feeling of dread that he may do it Friday, the game I wasn’t going to. After his first inning three run home run for 499 I felt my chances gaining. My heart swelled. I was extremely nervous. Could I be so lucky? In his third at bat he led off the inning, with two strikes on him – an inside pitch. WHACK! To the seats. I was shaking all over. High fives, screaming, hugs, tears welling in my eyes. He had done it. It is the pinnacle of all I love in the game of baseball. David Ortiz, released by the Twins after the 2002 season, became Big Papi in Boston. He is a hero. The 2004 ALCS, in the face of elimination, he put the team on his back. We come back to beat the Yankees and go on to win the first WS the team had seen in 86 years. ‘This is our fucking city.’ 2013, bases loaded with two outs against the Tigers in the ALCS, GRAND SLAM into the bullpen. Going on to bat .688 in the 2013 World Series and taking home his first WS MVP. It goes beyond those moments. It goes beyond these moments. But he started with modest beginnings, a young man with a dream leaving Santo Domingo and coming to America to pursue it. Three World Series rings, one World Series MVP, one ALCS MVP, nine time All-Star, six time Silver Slugger, and now the 27th member in the over one hundred year history of Major League Baseball to hit 500 home runs.
Often it is hard to be a fan. It hurts, it is cruel, it will break your heart. But on Saturday it was a reminder of why you push through, why you shoulder the pain. It is a beautiful game. It is unlike anything in this world and I will love it until my last day.
A video posted by Fox C. Mason (@kaitgolightly) on Sep 12, 2015 at 4:43pm PDT